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No search warrant? That doesn't means SARS can't conduct a search at your business...

by , 19 June 2013
In terms of the Tax Admin Act, SARS can enter your premises unannounced to conduct a search of the premises. When it does, it can seize any relevant documentation under a search and seizure warrant issued by a judge or magistrate. This said, there are three instances where SARS is allowed to search parts of your premises that aren't identified in a warrant. Find out what these instances are so you can be in control of the situation.

SARS has the authority to perform search and seizures in your business. It can either do this with or without a search and seizure warrant.

Although one of the things a warrant must contain are the details of the premises SARS will search, SARS also has the power to search your premises that aren't identified in a warrant.

But, only under these three circumstances:

Warning: SARS can search your premises for reasons not identified in a warrant in these three instances

If a senior SARS official has reasonable grounds to believe that: 

  1. The material's at another premises not identified in the warrant and there's a chance it may be destroyed and removed;
  2. The SARS official can't get a warrant in time to prevent the removal or destruction of the relevant material; and
  3. 'The delay in getting the warrant will defeat the object of the search and seizure because the material may have already been removed or destroyed,' says The Practical Tax Loose Leaf Service. Basically, a SARS official can enter and search your premises and exercise the same powers as the premises identified in the warrant.

If this happens to your business, remember to make notes and ensure SARS' conducting the search correctly and that you haven't been harassed. And 'if at any stage you feel your constitutional right's being violated, seek legal counsel immediately and ensure they access the courts,' advises the Loose Leaf.



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